Kellogg column: For Thanksgiving, celebrate living with purpose
Americans of all political persuasions have great reason to celebrate Thanksgiving next week. The United States was founded to protect our individual liberty, personal responsibility, free markets and religious freedom. Government is prohibited from diminishing our God-given right to uncover our inherent gifts, which serve our passions and callings. Every American is unfettered to utilize faith, fortitude and free will to live with purpose.
Our Declaration of Independence asserts that all people are created equal and endowed by God with “unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Constitution of the United States establishes a government to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” By design, our government has power to guarantee the God-given rights of Americans, but also the limitations of a republic that reflects the will of the people.
More than 80 percent of Americans profess a belief in God. Our nation was established based on Judeo-Christian beliefs and values, yet our government is forbidden to sponsor a church or a religion. On the contrary, the Constitution guarantees the religious freedom of all citizens. The Founders went beyond religious tolerance and specifically recognized that all citizens have the right to live with religious faith and purpose.
In the United States, we benefit from a free-market system that creates wealth and opportunity. Limits on government interference allow capitalism to stimulate creativity, innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit. Our economy thrives on competition and consistently produces an abundance of food, medicine and energy. We have excellent highways, clean drinking water and reliable electricity. Our struggle to survive is minimal.
As a free and prosperous people, we have the means to address human issues beyond our own everyday needs. Liberty and prosperity have unbridled every able American. Gender, race, color and creed are not limiting factors to uncovering a calling and living with purpose. We can all make the choice to move beyond survival mode and into the realm of service to our fellow man. As Americans, we can discover our gifts and make a difference in the lives of others.
Our world is full of need. Many people are emotionally and spiritually isolated, perhaps suffering the despair of broken relationships, illness, poverty and other maladies. We have the opportunity to reach out and share our inherent blessings. Through community, especially the community of Christ, we can live with purpose and truly touch lives. Such purpose-driven experiences are transformational for givers and recipients alike.
A purposeful life begins with an attitude of gratitude. Give heartfelt thanks to God. Celebrate if you’re blessed with physical health. Be grateful if you have a sound and stable mind. Be thankful that we’re designed for emotional connection with others. Revel in the knowledge that God has planted seeds of purpose in each human heart. Our blessings are overflowing.
A purposeful life requires courage. More than any people in history, Americans are enabled to use God-given gifts to fulfill true purpose. But we can’t be timid. We must look for ways to connect with our fellow man. We need to be open to new people and opportunities. It’s critical to move out of our comfort zones and cast fear aside. When we actively look for people to help, we build strong community and allow the seeds in our hearts to sprout into amazing gifts.
A purposeful life involves taking action. Whether our gift is musical or mechanical or anything in between, we must use it to fulfill our purpose. We can coach or mentor youth. Perhaps we volunteer time, skills or money to outreach programs or charity. Maybe we simply offer friendship to a person who is lonely and lost. The possibilities are endless, and a mindset of service builds fellowship and brings deep satisfaction.
On the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth in 1621, Gov. William Bradford proclaimed, “the great Father … has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.” The surviving passengers of the Mayflower were thankful for the liberty to fulfill their purpose. Present-day Americans are granted circumstances far better than afforded the pilgrims. Live to your true potential. Leverage your faith, fortitude and free will. Find and fulfill your purpose. Happy Thanksgiving!
James D. Kellogg is an engineering consultant and the author of “Radical Action: A Colt Kelley Thriller”. Look for the novel on amazon.com and visit JamesDKellogg.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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